Heirloom Tomato Tart in a Parmesan Crust Recipe

A knock-out tomato tart recipe - it highlights the flavor and vibrancy of the tomatoes while remaining mush-free.

Heirloom Tomato Tart in a Parmesan Crust

Admit it. The last time you tried to make a tomato tart you ended up with a sad, soggy crust. After being sliced, tomatoes have a tendency to seep liquids and turn the flour in your crust into a pasty sludge. If that wasn't enough - after cooking, a tomato-heavy tart can morph from looking pretty good in the oven into a pile of steaming tomato mush on your counter before you can say Brandywine.

We get an amazing range of heirloom tomatoes in San Francisco this time of year, and though it took me some time (and quite a few failed attempts) I've finally worked out the bugs and now have a recipe for a knock-out tart. It highlights the flavor and vibrancy of the tomatoes - while remaining structurally sound and mush-free.

The crust in this recipe is a mix of equal parts flour, butter, and cheese. I use Parmesan, but you could also play around with other hard, grated cheeses (asiago, aged gouda, etc). You pre-bake it and the smell of golden toasted cheese permeates the entire house. It is a simple platform for the tomatoes, but the spike of cheese flavor is just enough to compliment perfect tomatoes.

I leave the tomatoes uncooked. You could certainly suspend the tomatoes in some sort of quiche-type filling and cook them - but that is no way to push the tomatoes to the forefront. So I leave my tomatoes rinsed, sliced, and raw. The key is to salt and let them drain on paper towels for a few minutes before using them. Then assemble the tart just before serving as you would a salad.

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Heirloom Tomato Tart in a Parmesan Crust

This recipe will make one 9 or 10-inch tart OR five 4 1/2-inch tarts.

6 perfect, colorful, medium-sized heirloom tomatoes - washed and sliced 1/6-inch thick

1 t. fine-grain sea salt
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, well chilled + cut into 1/4-inch cubes

4-ounce chunk of good fresh Parmesan, microplane-grated (you should end up with about 2 cups loosely packed grated cheese. Save any leftover grated cheese for sprinkling on the crusts when they come out of the oven.

2 T. ice cold water
2T. best quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup slivered basil

Special equipment: tart pan(s), pie weights, paper towels

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Prep the tomatoes:
To avoid a soggy crust later on, you need to rid the tomatoes of some of their liquid. Clear a space on your counter and put down a double layer of absorbent paper towels. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the paper towels and sprinkle them with about 1 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt. Top the tomatoes with another layer of paper towels and press gently. Let the tomatoes sit here until you are ready to use them.

Make the tart crust(s):
Place both flours, butter, and Parmesan in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, punctuated with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the 2T of ice water. The dough should stick together when your pinch it between two fingers. Pour the dough into the tart pan. Working quickly, press the dough uniformly into the pan by pressing across the bottom and working towards the sides and up to form a rim. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the tart crust:
Pull the tarts out of the refrigerator and poke each a few times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with a square of aluminum foil and fill generously with pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and slide the tart onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, pull the shell out of the oven and very gently peel back and remove the tinfoil containing the pie weights. Place the uncovered tart back in the oven, weight free, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it is a deep golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little shredded Parmesan (this will act as another barrier to the tomato liquid). Let cool to room temperature before filling.

Assembling the tart: Just before serving, arrange tomato slices in a concentric pattern inside the tart shell. Drizzle with your best quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with the slivered basil. Serve at room temperature.

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Lauren: I usually buy my milk at Rainbow (because I shop there all the time), and make a scene by combing to the back of the refrigerator for the cartons or bottles with the best dates. Vici: sounds like a good idea, maybe stir a couple eggs into the ricotta to thin it out a bit more and act as a binder....


Hey Heidi- re: the fresh ricotta, where do you suggest buying good fresh milk in SF? many thanks!

Lauren Gelman

Thankyou. I made this last night as an alternative to peeled, sliced, peppered tommytoes on a plate next to Hunk-o-Salmon and it was MAGNIFICANT. I had to substitute gouda for, you know, the "what the heck is wrong with that cheese did it GO BAD' parmesan, but it was still wonderful. Once he got past the 'what is this some kind of pie it doesnt LOOK like a pie'wall. Baby steps-last night tomato tart, tonight mushrooms referred to as fungus in his world.


Micky, Sorry for the confusion. It is 4 ounces of each type of flour, 4 ounces butter, four ounce chunk of cheese. I did it by weight, and then translated to measurements. Should have been more clear. -h


I'm confused. You stated the crust is made of equal parts flour, butter, and cheese. Then you list 1 cup total flour, 1/2 cup butter, and 2 cups cheese. My head hurts just thinking about it. Which is true? It sounds and looks great, though.

Micky Lee

FYI ... a recent Cook's Illustrated offered up some intriguing techniques for a tomato tart. No gorgeous pictures like here but lots of testign for perfection!


Your tart is gorgeous. I like some creamyness (is that a word?) in my tarts....How do you think it would be, if after the crust is cooled, before you add the tomatoes, you spread with some ricotta blended with fresh chopped basil and seasoned with salt & pepper? The Brits are baking their ricotta these days, giving it a little golden color in the oven. I haven't tried it yet...but it gives one something to think about...vici


Lovely article, and a great recipe. May I add a suggestion which I use for Tomato Basil Tarts? You say that you leave the tomatoes uncooked but salt them to draw out water. You can achieve the same result with just a tad more work, but get some added flavor by GENTLY sauteeing the tomato slices in a light soffrito (garlic, butter and oil, and parsley, or for a subtle flavor, marjoram. After a few minutes, use a spatula to transfer the tomatoes to a colandar set over a bowl to drain. You can save the juices for another purpose. I LOVE this garlic and herb infused juice to add to soups, any tomato sauce, a vinaigrette, etc. I overlay the tomato slices in the tart (I also sprinkle parmesan in the bottom to help absorb any remaining juices). At the end of the cooking time, I add a few torn basil leaves just until they wilt, then remove the tart from the oven. Lovely photos! -Chef Mark http://remarkablepalate.blogspot.com

Chef Mark

My first post to your blog - which I thoroughly enjoy and visit often! This recipe looks awesome - I can't wait to try it. Thank you!


I am curious if you or anyone out there has dared try this crust with an aged goat such as tome de chevre? I am curious how it would hold up. Thanks!!!!


I love your site!! Your pictures are competely captivating and your words always interesting. I've only made the chocolate chip cookies so far ( at least 3 times and delicious!! ), but have earmarked many others including the zucchini cupcakes and this one. By the way, I have a 7 month old baby girl who is amazing and a not so great digital camera. I would love to shoot her like you do your food. May I ask what kind of camera and lense do you use? Thanks so much for one of my favorite things about about the computer and a sleeping baby!!


Longtime lurker - first time commenter. I'm going to try my hand at this tart - thanks for the idea! My tomato tart results have been rather unsatisfactory - and yes, it was quite soggy :( The photo looks absolutely incredible!


this sounds so delicious! i've been making quite a few tarts lately and i can't wait to try this one. thanks!


It sounds absolutely delicious...I just made the zucchini chocolate muffins....DELICIOUS!


I am definitely trying this one! Why does it seem that every tomatoe in Maryland is ripe on the vine on August 15th ?


Looks like a perfect summertime treat!


What a obvious and simple solution for the tomatoes! This looks amazing. Can't wait to try it.


Can't wait to go to the Farmer's Market tomorrow morning and swoop up some fresh tomatoes for this yummy looking tart.


Lovely... I am making this next week. Thank you for sharing.


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